Friday, July 5, 2013

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

When you see him up-close he looks rather menacing.

But striking fear is no small feat for a bird that weighs the equivalent of a couple coins…two cents. He’s fast, alert and always on guard for his enemies. Darting, dodging and dipping through flowers, he carefully evaluates where to stick his beak  before choosing a blossom.

He prefers red flowers and all the flowers in his blossom claim belong solely to him. This Ruby-throated Hummingbird has a greedy streak when it comes to food.  He is not into sharing.  Other male hummingbirds are not welcome and are quickly turned upon.  Fights occur whenever another male intrudes upon his territory and the strongest wins…there will be no sharing. His aggressive nature is directed towards females, too, although females are gradually and grudgingly accepted.

The slightly larger female lacks the iridescent throat of the male, but she shares a similar blue-green iridescent backside.  His beautifully bejeweled  throat undoubtedly impresses her.   She chooses a male after an elaborate courting display, including acrobatic flying, sunlit throat displays and steep dives at her.

Nectar is not enough for a Ruby-throated Hummingbird to survive upon, so insects fulfill his protein requirements.  He can pluck a mosquito from the air or hover at a web to relieve a spider of her catch.  He would dine on the spider, too, if she were silly enough to stick around.

Small feats of intimidation serve the Ruby-throated Hummingbird well.  He is the most prolific hummingbird east of the Rocky Mountains. 

As for his actual real live feet, he can’t walk very well…tiny feet.  He prefers to fly everywhere.